No, seriously. I got the letter in the mail today.
A few months back, in… I guess it was early April, I was riding my bike to school to take my last test for one of my classes. I was riding on the sidewalk, and waiting at a corner for the light to say I could go. Once it said I could, I start to cross. Now,a t this point, my attention is slightly diverted because one asshole decides to turn left into the street real quick before traffic moves. Apparently, though, I really should have been looking forward, because out of nowhere, this white minivan pulls up to the middle of the crosswalk, to kake a right on red I guess, and just as I turn to look forward again, WHAM! the front wheel of my bike lodges into the wheelwell, and I go flying onto the hood of the car before landing on the other side. I get back up, unhurt, and after a lot of confusion, get my bike out of the wheelwell. It didn;t even lose any air pressure from it. Me and the lady exchange numbers, And I hurry off to class sicne I don’t want to be late. I give my account of what happened to the insurance agency later, and I thought that was that. …Until today, I got a letter in the mail, saying they’re suing me for damages to the car.
So, just curious, to anyone with a better sense of the legal system than me: Do they have a case, or is this just bullshit?
I probably don’t have better sense of the legal system than you, but I’d say this is bullshit. Unless the vehicle sustained any damage, from your post I’d say no, or the lady has a damn good lawyer, the suit will probably fail. Although if she fabricated damages after the accident to make it appear as though you actually damaged her vehicle you might have a case that would probably be easy to win if you even have at least a mediocre lawyer.
I don’t think you could really fake damages. I mean, a bike just starting to pick ups peed down;t have much mass/force to it… I’m surprised I went flying like I did. Anyway, I just ask for another’s opinion. I mean, my own understandign and view might be a bit biased, just because it’s me, right?
I don’t even know what to say. It’s bullshit for sure, but is it surprising? I’d venture a no.
To sue someone you just hit with your car you’d have to not really have a conscience and be a complete slave to money. Rest assured the lady’s a bitch.
Can’t help you defend yourself though
They need to prove that you caused the damage. For that they need to reasonably demonstrate that how you guys collided did what it did and they need to have a picture from when it happened to show that this didn’t happen at some other event and they’re trying to blame you. Finally, they need to prove that the collision was your fault. If they were turning right on a red, its theirs.
She’s probably just trying to strong arm you into settling for something you have no responsibility for.
You should also be sure you’re correct. There are “ambulance chasing” lawyers who just check patient lists and send out mass letters. It happened to me after my car accident (I ran into the back of a van) and I never responded and it never mattered.
This is why you always get a police report.
I think Sin’s right… turning right on a red always has to yield to traffic. If any damage happened to her car while she was doing that, as far as I can tell, she should pretty much always be liable for it.
Which means she hurt her own fucking car.
Yeah, what the others said. This definitely smells like bullshit from her part, Val. Good luck!
Yeah, she’s either trying to scare you into coughing out some $$, or it’s a ‘generic letter’ like Sorcerer said. Stick to your story, and don’t give up!
Uhhhh…regardless of lights and shit, pedestrians have the right-of-way. If anyone ought to be getting their ass sued, it should be her because she’s the one in the bigass vehicle that could’ve crushed you to death.
Bikes aren’t pedestrians, though. They’re vehicles. It’s not true in the general case that in cars vs. bikes cars always win. It is true that if you’re turning right on a red you never have the right of way.
I’m no expert on traffic law, and this isn’t “legal advice” in any sense. However:
There may be a local or state regulation against riding bikes on sidewalks or crosswalks. This would mean riding on the sidewalk/crosswalk, resulting in a collision, would be “negligence per se” on the rider’s part. I.e. the accident was caused by a direct violation of the regulation, so you’re legally accountable. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that 1) as others have mentioned, they’ll have difficulty proving damages. The woman was apparently not concerned enough to get a police report. So that rules out any obvious dents/scratches she tries to claim for. 2) Comparative responsibility would probably eliminate most of what damages are left. I’m fairly sure that, by advancing into the crosswalk during a red light, she took upon herself a duty to ensure there were no approaching pedestrians, rollerbladers, etc. on the crosswalk she might hit. Her negligence in failing to do so would be weighed against your negligence in riding on the crosswalk, and damages would be divided proportionately. 3) You can counterclaim. Did you suffer bodily damage, including scrapes and bruises? Did you suffer pain or mental trauma as a result of those injuries? Was your bike harmed? Were you late for class, with some negative consequence? Did it cost you money to drive to the insurance agency? Etc. The big ones are harm to you or the bike.
This is all speculative. What you <i>should</i> do is find an attorney who’ll work cheaply or on contingency fees. Like others have said, I think she wants a quick settlement out of a young guy who has no time/money to get a lawyer. Get a lawyer who threatens to counterclaim, and I bet she’ll back down.
Thanks for all of the advice, guys. A few clarifications (because I’m masochistic in terms of honesty):
-Technically, I think there IS a law that says bikes should be ridden in the street on Main Street, but as I understand, that only applies to a section of Downtown Main street, which I’d passed by this point. I know, because I kept getting stopped by policement in the past for riding on the sidewalk.
-I couldn;t really counter-sue, because like I said, I somehow didn’t have a scratch on me. The bike was perfectly fine, too. hell, I even aced the test I took that day!
-I’m not sure if she was actually going to turn right on red… but she pulled up into the crosswalk anyway, and it looked fairly obvious. Could argue she was just waiting for the light to turn green, though I don’t know who’d pull up that close just to wait.
We still haven’t heard back from them, although I’m told it’ll take a few days probably. Will keep you osted on any new developments.
Hope all goes well, but yeah, I know here in Texas there’s supposedly a law that makes it where folks have to bike in the street which makes no sense to me. You have to be real brave though to bike on the State Highway with folks driving fifty around you.
Look at the bright side, you can request Judge Judy or somebody like that if it goes to trial, right?
-you can counter sue for emotional distress
-even if you aren’t sure she was turning on a red, its been so long that unless she has a video showing it was green , you’re in the clear.
-whenever you do anything from a legal standpoint from here on, clean up your story. Don’t give her any fire against you.
Careful about that one. He can counterclaim for physical harms (however minor) <i>resulting in</i> pain and suffering, including any amount of emotional distress. But claims for negligent infliction of pure emotional distress require an incredibly traumatic event. E.g., watching your 5-year-old child be run over and killed. <i>Finding</i> your child run over several minutes later would not be enough. And being tossed over the front of a van would not be enough for a pure emotional distress claim either.
Regarding the amount of time that’s passed since the event, it may or may not be an issue. The question is, what evidence does she have? Does she have photos that can be reliably dated to the accident? Does she have eyewitnesses, or expert witnesses who can testify to exactly what series of events caused the particular set of dents on the car? Or is she just relying on how her car looks <i>right now</i>?
See, people offer truisms about how the law works, but there’s no hard-and-fast rule that’ll tell you how this lawsuit will turn out. Not, at least, until you have significantly more information. Which is why Valkyrie Esker needs a lawyer who can handle the discovery process.
That is true, which really sucks. I hope this doesn’t cost you money. If VE wins the suit, does the bitch have to pay for his legal fees? Can he get her to compensate him for frivolous stuff like that?